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It all comes roughly six weeks after IndyCar concluded one of its best seasons in series history. Ryan Hunter-Reay became the first American to win the championship in six years, and Chevrolet won the manufacturer title in its return to the series after a six-year absence.

There were eight different on-track winners and IndyCar debuted its first new car in nine years. Bernard also unveiled the 2013 schedule on Oct. 1 that brings back Pocono after 23 years, and resumes the “The Triple Crown” promotion, an IndyCar tradition last done in 1989.

But those inside the industry have complained the uncertainty of Bernard’s future and the mishandling of his departure have taken the focus away from all the positives, and several owners and drivers who attended the annual SEMA Show trade show in Las Vegas this week complained IndyCar was the laughingstock of the industry.

IndyCar will have to bring some kind of closure to the sales rumors. George last month submitted an unsolicited bid of $5 million to reacquire the series from his mother and three sisters, but the Hulman & Co. board did not consider it. George resigned from the board Oct. 19, citing a conflict of interest in holding a seat while trying to purchase the series he created in 1994 and ran until he was stripped of power by his family in 2009.

Bernard, the former head of Professional Bull Riders, was brought in by George’s sister, Josie, in 2010 to revitalize the series. He generally was praised for his stewardship, some owners aside, right up until Sunday’s emergency meeting of the 11-member IMS board called with two years left on his contract.

Asked what message drivers and team owners should offer to sponsors and fans, Belskus said it was one of moving forward.

“The message is we’ve got a bright future for the IndyCar Series, and I see a lot of opportunity,” Belskus said. “The plan for 2013, we are continuing to execute it. Parts of it have been executed already, for example. The schedule, it’s an exciting schedule, and we look forward to good competition for the series. We had good competition in 2012, and I believe we’ll have good or better competition in 2013.”

Belskus said the immediate goals include increasing the fan base, which begins by redirecting marketing and promotional dollars.

“We want a healthy IndyCar Series,” he stressed. “Our fans are extremely important to us. We need to grow that fan base.”

He was less direct when asked about a SpeedTV.com account of Bernard’s firing that indicated team owners plotted his dismissal all season. It portrayed the owners as having all the power in the series, and the ability to overrule Bernard’s decisions by going above him to Belskus at any time.

The owner-led coup had been common knowledge inside the paddock all season, and Bernard even tweeted about it two days after the Indianapolis 500. Belskus said he was aware of, but had not read Wednesday’s SpeedTV.com account of the plot against Bernard.

“We have a lot of important key stakeholders in the IndyCar Series. Car owners certainly fall into that category. They are very important to us,” Belskus said. “But there are others who are very important to us as well. The drivers, the drivers are our stars. The tracks, the promoters are very important to us as well. The fans, they are the most important group to us. You’ve got to balance all of those and try to do what is in everyone’s best interest. You’ve got to listen to all of our stakeholders and balance their needs and desires.”